Abnormal beta1 integrin receptor function may contribute to the continuous proliferation and abnormal circulation of malignant hematopoietic progenitors in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Previous studies suggest that abnormal integrin function in CML progenitors is related to the presence of the BCR/ABL oncogene. BCR/ABL may alter integrin function in CML by phosphorylating cytoskeletal and/or signaling proteins important for normal integrin function. We evaluated the effect of Tyrphostin AG957, a protein tyrosine kinase (PTK) inhibitor which has activity against the p210BCR/ABL kinase, on beta1 integrin function in CML progenitors. Incubation of CML marrow CD34+HLA-DR+ cells with Tyrphostin AG957 at concentrations that did not affect colony-forming cells (CFC) viability, but which partly inhibited p210BCR/ABL kinase activity, significantly increased CML CFC adhesion to stroma and alpha4beta1 and alpha5beta1 integrin binding fragments of fibronectin (FN). CML CFC proliferation, unlike that of normal CFC, is not inhibited following integrin receptor engagement with FN or anti-integrin antibodies. AG957 did not alter CML CFC proliferation by itself, but resulted in significant inhibition of CML CFC proliferation following integrin engagement. Another PTK inhibitor, Tyrphostin AG555, which does not have anti-p210BCR/ABL kinase activity, did not affect CML CFC adhesion or proliferation. Neither AG957 nor AG555 affected normal CFC adhesion or proliferation. In BCR/ABL expressing cells, AG957 partially inhibited phosphorylation of several proteins that are BCR/ABL PTK substrates and are involved in normal integrin signaling. These studies suggest that abnormal tyrosine phosphorylation may play an important role in defective integrin function in CML progenitors.